it comes to proposals acting as tipping points for future developments
few projects can be more important than St George's Wharf Tower
in Vauxhall, which looks likely to be London's first 500ft+ residential
Vauxhall almost saw a skyscraper cluster arrise in the early 1970s.
A series of buildings along the edge of the Thames of between 350ft
and 450ft were approved but the slump following the 1973 oil crisis
saw that they never got started.
Their was also much fighting over the Effra site, including two
public inquiries where each time the secretary of State decided
against high-rise development. It is now this site that has been
bought and developed into St George's Wharf complete with plans
for a 181m tall centerpiece.
Developer by St George their self-named St George's Wharf is a successful
mid-rise development on the the South Bank of the Thames near Vauxhall
which is now nearing completion and totals 72m in height.
It is located near a major transport interchange and has been zoned
as one of six areas of London which are acceptable for tall buildings
by both the government and Mayor.
Although the existing development is not particularly tall it has
made a substantial difference to the skyline in the area which is
largely medium rise and has almost completely sold out.
One section of land on the end of the site has yet to be developed
and it's been proposed now to build a 181m residential tower. If
built it will be the tallest residential project in the country
by a large margin.
St George's Wharf
Tower was originally concieved by Broadway Malayan and released
to the public in 2000. A circular design, stepping up, it would
be a revolutionary
environmentally friendly tower, not only tall but also sporting
a windturbine on the top - something that has never been done in
London before - that would provide 50% of the buildings power.
It will contain a total of 167 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments on
48 floors, with the top floor for a mechanical penthouse and the
turbine standing on top of this.
Following a number of criticisms from architectural and design bodies
the tower has undergone a number of subtle redesigns, mostly to
the outside with remodelling of the base and pinacle and changes
to the colour of the cladding removing the rotating step. The end
result is something less metallic and more glassy, but more importantly
with a sheer look as the removal of the steps emphasise the height
Public Inquiry and planning process.
The location of the tower has in the past been considered somewhat
sensitive - it's proximity to the Palace of Westminster being the
cause for high-rise proposals on the Effra site being rejected.
This is despite the tower being almost completely obstructed from
that view by Millbank Tower. Common sense seems to have won through
this time and there has been no public inquiry despite the usual
The planning process has centered around changes to the outside
of the tower which have changed the look but not the shape as recommended
by CABE to assist it's progress through the planning which is common-place
these days, but more importantly issues of planning gain.
The developer originally offered only 25% of the flats as affordable
claiming that the wind turbine on the top should negate them having
to make up the shortfall too as the Mayor of London's office expects.
The Mayor's office responded in April by refusing the application
not on the grounds of the design of the tower itself but because
of the lack of public housing and the excess car-park spaces which
is common sense given how close it is to the railway and tube stations
The garden was also recommended for remodelling to help shield the
area from wind which will hit it from the Thames.
The developers have agreed to take into account these changes and
the design has been resubmitted with 40% public housing.
Meanwhile in a shot across Lambeth Councils bows the Mayor's office
warned London's councils that rejecting towers he had approved would
lead to legal action, although he cannot compel a council to approve
Given the formal opposition to this tower stems mostly from disagreements
over planning gain rather than the issue of building a skyscraper
on this site. As the developer has agreed to the Mayor's proposals
approval from his office looks likely before the end of the year.
Lambeth council are said to be a bit cagey on the issue but whether
they fancy a fight with both the Mayor and the developers in the
court seems unlikely as the chances are they would lose.
London needs more homes and this development recognises both that
and the need for environmentally sustainable housing and should
be welcomed as such. SN.com is confident that St George's Wharf
will see it's tower rise early next year. If asked for a percentage
on whether it will be approved our our answer would be 90% positive.
This will be the first of a number of similar sized towers in an
area zoned for such buildings by developers eager to cash on the
The end result can only mean more skyscrapers for London and with
developers feeling they can get tall residential buildings approved,
plus the current cost of land in London which is amongst the most
expensive in the world, the skyline will look very different in
ten years time.